PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers allow a user to transfer data from or to a host computer to or from a PCMCIA card. These products derive their names from the Personal Computer Memory Card Association (PCMCIA), the organization that develops and maintains standards for PCMCIA cards. PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card readers are also known as card drivers. They serve as a PCMCIA carrier that connects to the host computer through a port or bus. Originally known as PC cards and designed to add memory to portable computers, PCMCIA cards are now used in many applications. For example, PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers are used to simplify the task of transporting and sharing files among digital cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs), notebooks, and desktop personal computers (PCs).

Types

There are two basic types of PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers: external and internal. External devices are modules that, as their name indicates, are external to the host computer. Internal devices are mounted inside the host computer through a 3.5” or 5.25” disk drive bay. To use an internal reader/writer, the host computer must have an available disk drive bay.  Other specifications to consider when selecting PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers are data transfer rate, operating rate, and certifications. Some cards bear the European Union’s CE mark while others are certified by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

Differences

PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers differ in terms of interface and sockets supported. Typically, these devices interface to the host via IEEE 1394 or FireWire® (Apple Computer, Inc.), industry standard architecture (ISA) or extended ISA (EISA), PC/104 or a variant such as PC/104Plus, small computer system interface (SCSI), peripheral component interconnect (PCI), or universal serial bus (USB). Parallel and serial interfaces are also commonly available. In terms of socket support, the choices are based on form factor and/or technology. Some PCMCIA card readers and PCMCIA card writers support Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type IV sockets (a reference to form factor). Card readers and card writers that support SmartMedia® (Smart Media Limited) and CompactFlash® (CompactFlash Association) sockets are also available.